We’re halfway through the school year. How is your child with ADHD doing? This is a good time to review your child’s progress, think about what is working, what isn’t working and make changes, if needed. You might find that everyone has settled into routines and things are moving along smoothly although when you have a child with ADHD, smoothly is not a word that is often used. Instead, you might find that routines have been relaxed, structure has been replaced with chaos or the early motivation has waned. Below are areas you might want to pay attention to when looking at your child’s progress.
How are your child’s grades as the second semester of the year comes to a close? Are grades slipping or remaining consistent? Are there subjects your child is struggling with or having a hard time keeping up with the work? If you believe your child is struggling academically, you can:
- Set up a meeting with your child’s teacher. Ask for specific information on where your child is struggling and suggestions on what you and your child’s teacher can do to help.
- Consider a tutor. While tutors are certainly helpful when your child is doing poorly in a class, you don’t need to wait until your child is failing to enlist the help of a tutor. Older students or professional tutors can help in boosting your child’s grades, for example from a C to a B, giving your child a better understanding of the subject or increasing your child’s confidence in a subject.
- Review IEP or Section 504 accommodations. Look over the accommodations listed in your child’s IEP or Section 504 if he has one. Are these accommodations helping? Are there different accommodations that would improve your child’s performance? If so, request an IEP or Section 504 meeting to review progress and give/request input on making changes.
- _Consider whether poor or falling grade_s are a result of missed and late assignments. Children with ADHD are notorious for for forgetting to complete assignments or losing them before handing them in to the teacher. If this is happening, work with the teacher to create a system where you are notified of assignments and updated if they are missing or late.
Some parents are surprised when they receive a report card and notice that their child is often late for school or has more absences than expected. If this occurs you can:
- Review morning routines. Is your child responsible for getting up, ready and out of the house by himself? If so, talk about what happens once you leave for work. Is your child oversleeping? Spending too much time getting ready? Missing the bus? Once you are aware of the problem, you can take steps to correct it.
- Set up expectations. Is your child skipping school, leaving school early or skipping classes? While this doesn’t often happen with younger students, high school students might avoid going to school if school is difficult and they think they can get away with it. Talk about what is going on and discuss your expectations as well as consequences for this behavior. Be specific.
Having friends is an important part of the school experience. Some children with ADHD have a difficult time making friends but others might be overbooked, wanting to be involved in many different activities. It’s important to find a balance.
- If your child has difficulty making friends__, talk to the school guidance counselor about social skills training and various activities at the school which could benefit your child. You can also look for activities, clubs or classes outside of school that fit in with your child’s interests - for example, martial arts, music classes, art classes, sports leagues.
- If your child is overbooked, list everything your child is involved in and discuss eliminating one or two activities to give more time for schoolwork. Be sure to allow your child to continue with those that provide social opportunities but don’t take up valuable homework time.
When reviewing your child’s progress, don’t forget to ask him or her what they perceive to be most helpful and what accommodations they feel are no longer needed. Your child’s input can be very valuable and insightful during this process.
For more information:
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.